By now, I think most of us are aware of the stellar reputation that green tea has earned for enhancing health and well-being throughout the body's systems. Traditional Chinese medicine has valued green tea for millennia, employing it as an astringent, a diuretic, and a digestive aid, among other uses. In traditional Indian medicine, it is used for regulating body temperature and improving mental processes.
In modern times, scientific research has indicated that the primary active ingredient in green tea, an antioxidant olyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has numerous anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects. This substance has been shown to reduce the formation of damaging free radicals, and thereby may have a significant effect in cancer prevention, heart health, and brain function.
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world (after water, of course), so presumably we can get a decent daily dose of the benefits of green tea in our cups and mugs. But I would propose that there are more ways to enjoy and appreciate green tea than just as a straight-forward "cuppa." Here are just a few:
- Green Tea Ice Cubes. Brew a nice strong pot, let it cool down, then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Add the cubes to your favorite lemonade or your morning orange juice. Throw them in a blender with some mango, pineapple, and fresh ginger for a tropical frappé. Or give them a few quick pulses in a food processor or blender for a quick and healthy granita.
- Green Tea Infused Milk. Steep a few green tea bags in warm milk for a few minutes. Then use the milk in recipes for baked treats-make a gluten-free Tres Leches cake with a delicate tea perfume, or a Cuban flan with an intriguing and subtle twist. And try the same technique with almond milk or rice milk, and then proceed with your favorite recipes.
- Green Tea Poaching. First, brew up a pot of good strong green tea, then remove the tea and use the liquid for cooking. A few ideas: Cook a few
chicken cutlets, then slice them thinly for a Chinese chicken salad. Or use the green tea for a soup-add tofu cubes, sliced shiitake mushrooms, and mung bean sprouts with a splash of soy. And for a terrifically healthy treat, see our recipe for Green Tea Poached Peaches with Ginger Yogurt Crème recipe (p. 76).
So get creative and start expanding your green tea repertoire. It'll do your body good.
Why brew your own? Fresh brewed green tea generally contains more beneficial polyphenols than bottled or canned versions.